As the summer draws to an end, many people contemplate going to graduate school. There are a lot of reasons to go back to school but you should decide if those reasons are good enough reasons to spend a year or two (or three) studying and taking exams and incurring debt while you are out of the job market. You should also consider what is it that you hope to do when you graduate. If you are thinking about pursuing a career in global public policy (because almost every aspect of life is affected by policy decisions and because you want to make an impact on the global community); getting into a highly competitive, highly impactful organization takes a higher level of training and expertise that a master’s degree can provide.
Going into a graduate program is a big investment in your career and it’s a way to focus on your passion. Graduate school programs are very specific, so you should know what you want to get out of it before going into it. You should look at going to graduate school to enhance and develop certain skill sets that will help you achieve a specific job that you want to have post-graduate school.
The piece of paper you get after you finish a program is not going to guarantee anything; it’s the experiences in and around graduate school such as the networking opportunities with students, faculty, and alumni, how you position yourself through the courses you take, the student organizations you may be involved in, events you attend, the internships and assistantships you obtain; your graduate school experience will make the difference on the impact you hope to have, personally and professionally.
You should research the various programs – make sure it’s the right program that offers you the concentration you are interested in studying that will help you get the job in a specific field that you had your eye on. Start your research early. You should visit the school/program websites, speak with the admissions offices, attend information sessions, sit in on a class, meet with a professor doing research in your area of interest, review course descriptions and curriculum outlines, and take the time to speak with students and alumni to get their perspectives about the program and life after school.
Find the right school and program that aligns with your interests and will get you the access to the opportunities that matter.